Winding drives through the streets of Spokane revealed to a young Don Barbieri the conditions placed on life by his mentor, future partner and father.
There was one condition, Lou Barbieri told his son years ago.
Never bring work home.
Yet, though tradition, a gentle hand and a commitment to Spokane, the elder Barbieri always seemed to bring a sense of home to work.
Barbieri, 82, died Monday afternoon after kidney dialysis treatment at an area hospital.
A legacy of his commitment to business and family, which helped bring to Spokane everything from Expo ‘74 to Nordstrom, remains. But, his son said, there was so much more.
Barbieri, born in 1915 in DeSmet, Idaho, to Italian immigrant parents, watched his family struggle to homestead after coming to the Northwest with nothing.
Hardworking, but never wealthy, his parents sent him to Gonzaga University where Barbieri received a business degree in 1937 and a law degree in 1940.
“His love for Gonzaga was pretty deep,” Don Barbieri said. “With that, his love for the simple things about family and tradition, caring for those who didn’t have anything, were the foundations of his business career.”
Barbieri’s career was launched by mentor and friend Frank Goodale, who took him on as a partner at his property management firm in 1956.
It was there, at Goodale and Barbieri, that he built his professional career.
The Spokane developer built a company of six employees into that of 1,400 today. The Spokane business now maintains property across the Northwest, playing major roles in the development of projects from Seattle to Kalispell, Mont.
But his quiet passions were revealed in his charity.
Through the years, the elder Barbieri devoted much of his time to the development of low-income housing for senior citizens through Catholic Charities.
“It was the hand that reached out for those who didn’t have a chance,” Don Barbieri said. “He poured himself into the charities that he felt were so important.”
He also revealed his commitment to the community as a member of dozens of civic and professional organizations including the Downtown Spokane Rotary Club, the Gonzaga Alumni Association and the Building Owners and Managers Association.
With his wife, seven children, armfuls of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he is most fondly remembered for the time he took for everyone.
“He always taught us to follow our own passion,” Don Barbieri said. “It was a good lesson. Every day is a gift. Live it to the fullest. At age 82 he was doing that.”
A funeral Mass will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at St. Aloysius Church. The family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Catholic Charities housing outreach program.
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